Faith Based explores how the Religious Right has
supported neoliberalism in the United States, bringing a particular
focus to welfare-an arena where conservative Protestant politics
and neoliberal economic ideas come together most clearly. Through
case studies of gospel rescue missions, Habitat for Humanity, and
religious charities in post-Katrina New Orleans, Jason Hackworth
describes both the theory and practice of faith-based welfare,
revealing fundamental tensions between the religious and economic
wings of the conservative movement.
Hackworth begins by tracing the fusion of evangelical religious
conservatism and promarket, antigovernment activism, which resulted
in what he calls "religious neoliberalism." He argues that
neoliberalism-the ideological sanctification of private property,
the individual, and antistatist politics-has rarely been popular
enough on its own to promote wide change. Rather, neoliberals gain
the most traction when they align their efforts with other
discourses and ideas. The promotion of faith-based alternatives to
welfare is a classic case of coalition building on the Right.
Evangelicals get to provide social services in line with Biblical
tenets, while opponents of big government chip away at the public
Though religious neoliberalism is most closely associated with
George W. Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood
Partnerships, the idea predates Bush and continues to hold sway in
the Obama administration. Despite its success, however, Hackworth
contends that religious neoliberalism remains an uneasy alliance-a
fusion that has been tested and frayed by recent events.
Subjects: Population Studies, Political Science, Religion
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